A congressman who has harshly criticized Yosemite National Park staff for their work on a management plan for the iconic Yosemite Valley has in turn drawn criticism from one of California's largest newspapers.
Rep. Tom McClintock, whose district includes Yosemite, attacked park staff for drafting a plan that he maintains would "restrict and harass" visitors. Drawing the congressman's ire is a proposal by the park staff to remove the ice-skating rink in Curry Village, as well as the horseback riding concession in the valley. Bike rentals also would no longer be allowed if the proposal is approved, nor rentals of tubes for floating on the Merced.
But in an editorial this week, the Sacramento Bee said the Republican is merely "grandstanding" and that opposing the park's planning efforts would relegate the Yosemite Valley "to the current congestion and clutter. Reasonable Americans understand that Yosemite National Park has to address traffic, parking and camping in a methodical, sustainable way."
The draft management plan is intended to provide protection for the "outstandingly remarkable values" of the Merced River, which was designated in 1987 as a "recreational" river through the Yosemite Valley under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Two earlier plans the park drafted to address protection of the river were struck down by the courts.
In the most recent rejection, by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in February 2008, the judges both directed the park staff to set a daily visitation capacity limit for the river corridor through the valley and quite clearly implied that the Park Service needed to consider reducing commercial activities that do not "protect or enhance" the Merced's unique values.
In noting that the Yosemite staff is reviewing 30,000 comments on the draft proposal, the newspaper said "McClintock should turn down the volume and let that process proceed."